Queen Esther - the Bible text

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Esther crowned by Ahasuerus

Esther's story

Movies about royal woman: Elizabeth I

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Middle Eastern woman dressed for her wedding

Finding a Husband

Compare with Ahaseurus'  method of choosing a wife

Ancient jewelry from Nimrud, Iraq

Ancient Jewelry

Golden crown

 Bible Women: Esther

Bible heroine: Judith, from the painting by Caravaggio

Bible Heroines 

Layout of the central palace at Persepolis

Ancient palaces

 Famous paintings of Esther

Famous paintings Esther






Foolish king, wise queen

A nation-wide Beauty Contest   Esther with Additions, Chapter 2

1  After these things, the king's anger abated, and he no longer was concerned about Vashti or remembered what he had said and how he had condemned her.
Esther, Minerva Teichert 2  Then the king's servants said 'Let beautiful and virtuous girls be sought out for the king.
3  The king shall appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, and they shall select beautiful young virgins to be brought to the harem in Susa, the capital. Let them be entrusted to the king's eunuch who is in charge of the women, and let ointments and whatever else they need given them.
4  And the woman who pleases the king shall be queen instead of Vashti. This pleased the king, and he did so.
5  Now there was a Jew in Susa the capital whose name was Mordecai son of Jair son of Shimei son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin;
6  he had been taken captive from Jerusalem among those whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had captured.
7  And he had a foster child, the daughter of his father's brother, Aminadab, and her name was Esther. When her parents died, he brought her up to womanhood as his own. The girl was beautiful in appearance.
8  So, when the decree of the king was proclaimed, and many girls were gathered in Susa the capital in custody of Gai, Esther also was brought to Gai, who had custody of the women.

The Preparations

9  The girl pleased him and won his favor, and he quickly provided her with ointments and her portion of food, as well as seven maids The Grooming of Esther, Theodore Chasseriau chosen from the palace; he treated her and her maids with special favor in the harem.
12  ......Now the period after which a girl was to go to the king was twelve months. During this time the days of beautification are completed -- six months while they are anointing themselves with oil of myrrh, and six months with spices and ointments for women.
13  Then she goes in to the king; she is handed to the person appointed, and goes with him from the harem to the king's palace.
14  In the evening she enters and in the morning she departs to the second harem, where Gai the king's eunuch is in charge of the women; and she does not go in to the king again unless she is summoned by name.

Esther wins the Contest

15  When the time was fulfilled for Esther daughter of Aminadab, the brother of Mordecai's father, to go in to the king, she neglected none of the things that Gai, the eunuch in charge of the women, had commanded. Now Esther found favor in the eyes of all who saw her.
16  So Esther went in to King Artaxerxes in the twelth month, which is Adar, in the seventh year of his reigh.
17  And the king loved Esther and she found favor beyond all the other virgins, so he put on her the queen's diadem.

The Festival of Esther, Edward Armitage

The Festival of Esther, Edward Armitage

Esther's Prayer   Esther with Additions, Chapter 14

1  Then Queen Esther, seized with deadly anxiety, fled to the Lord. 
2  She took off her splendid apparel and put on the garments of distress and mourning, and instead of costly perfumes she covered her head with ashes and dung, and she utterly humbled her body; every part that she loved to adorn she covered with her tangled hair.
3  She prayed to the Lord God of Israel, and said: 'O my Lord, you only are our king; help me, who am alone and have no helper but you.

Esther is Received by the King

1  On the third day, when she ended her prayer, she took off the garments in which she had worshiped, and arrayed herself in splendid attire.
2  Then, majestically adorned, after invoking the aid of the all-seeing God and Savior, she took two maids with her;

There was a law that anyone coming unbidden into the King's presence would be instantly killed. Esther had not been bidden to his presence, and therefore risked death.

3  on one she leaned gently for support,
4  while the other followed, carrying her train.
5  She was radiant with perfect beauty, and she looked happy, as if beloved, but her heart was frozen with fear.
6  When she had gone through all the doors, she stood before the king. He was seated on his royal throne, clothed in the full array of his majesty, all covered with gold and precious stones. He was most terrifying.

Esther Faints

Esther Before Ahaseurus, Artemesia Gentileschi7  Lifting his face, flushed with splendor, he looked at her in fierce anger.  The queen faltered, and turned pale and faint, and collapsed on the head of the maid who went in front of her.
8  Then God changed the spirit of the king to gentleness, and in alarm he sprang from his throne and took her in his arms until she came to herself. He comforted her with soothing words, and said to her,
9  'What is it, Esther? I am your husband. Take courage;
10  You shall not die, for our law applies only to our subjects. Come near".
11  Then he raised the golden scepter and touched her neck with it;
12  he embraced her, and said 'Speak to me....'


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